Marketers have long sought the silver bullet that drives leads and sales.
That one hack that can help them sell sand on the beach.
As we all know, there is no silver bullet in marketing. One thing comes pretty close though – subliminal messaging.
What is subliminal messaging?
Subliminal messaging isn't new. History suggests that Greek philosophers were concerned with it as early as the 5th century.
What exactly is subliminal messaging?
Subliminal messaging is a technique that affects people without them noticing. It uses visual or audio stimuli to increase the persuasiveness of a message.
In short, a subliminal message is a hidden message that the brain picks up on without you even realizing it. While subliminal messaging is mostly used in media such as music, television advertising, and radio advertising, it still works for digital media, including paid social campaigns.
Some notable ads that made use of subliminal messaging include:
Examples of subliminal messaging
One of the best examples of subliminal messages used tactfully by a brand is that of FedEx. A closer look at the logo reveals an arrow formed by the space between the "E" and the "x".
The message behind the arrow is that FedEx is as fast and accurate as an arrow from a skilled archer's bow.
With the rapid rise of social media, subliminal messaging has quickly found its way into social media campaigns.
Here's a great example from the popular Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor:
What better way to reinforce the fact that they have 31 flavors of ice cream than to put them in their logo? Oh, and surround this logo with the different flavors. For ice cream lovers, this just screams "ice cream heaven".
Subliminal messaging is a powerful way to communicate with your customers on a deeper level where you can really get into their minds.
So make sure to include it as one of the strategies in your marketing toolbox.
Why should you use subliminal messaging in your social media campaigns?
Let's get one thing straight before we move on.
The purpose of subliminal messaging in your social media campaigns is not to manipulate your audience into buying your product / service. This is impossible no matter how you try.
What's the point of subliminal messaging?
Subliminal messaging only works if there is already a need for the product you are promoting. The whole point of subliminal messaging is to help your target audience choose the right solution for their need – hopefully your solution.
To do this, you can use subliminal messages to:
- Increase brand awareness
- Promote an emotional connection between your brand and your target audience
Well done, subliminal messaging can bring your brand to the fore whenever the solution you provide is needed.
Whether deliberately processed or not, the fact is that brand impressions have an impact on how your target audience will interact with your brand.
Why subliminal messages are effective in social media campaigns
The most effective ads are those that get results without drawing attention to themselves. In other words, an ad that doesn't look like an ad but gets people to act is one of the most powerful marketing tools in your arsenal.
That's what subliminal messaging can do with your social media campaigns. Since it is subtle, users barely even notice that you are marketing to them.
Why is subliminal messaging so effective in social media campaigns?
What makes subliminal messages unique is that they are below the threshold at which the mind can consciously perceive the stimuli. Since most meaningful decisions are made at the subconscious level, subliminal messaging affects people's behavior and decisions.
Another reason to use subliminal messages in your social media campaigns is to delight your customers with an “Easter egg”. Well done, this could cause your ads to go viral as people love to share interesting social media posts.
5 Ways to use subliminal messaging in your social media campaign
Now that you know what subliminal messaging is and how powerful it is, let's dive into how you can use it for your next social media campaign.
Use subliminal messages in your logo
One of the best ways to use subliminal messages is with your logo. While most of your marketing resources are constantly changing, your logo (usually) stays constant.
Since your logo is likely to appear in most of your marketing efforts, it's the perfect channel for your subliminal message. Because the more people see it, the deeper the message will be anchored in the subconscious of your audience.
We've already seen FedEx's example of subliminal messages in a logo. So let's look at another well-played subliminal message in a logo.
Tostitos don't just make tortilla chips and dips. They also help create memorable gatherings.
It is precisely this message that they share subliminally in their logo. As a result, the logo evokes a sense of fun, joy, and warmth. When faced with a variety of tortilla chips, your heart will be drawn to tostitos.
That is why you need to invest in good logo design. One that not only looks pretty, but also appeals to the subconscious of your target group.
Use Sub-Audible Messaging in your Audio
Transmitting subliminal messages through audio has been widely used in the self-help and personal assistance industries. As a marketer, you can also use this technique in your social media campaigns.
Sub-audible messaging is a great way to incorporate subliminal messaging into your social media campaigns.
Inaudible messages are audible cues, usually at a lower volume than your primary audio source. Because of the lower volume, they are heard on a subliminal level, not by the conscious mind.
Alternatively, you can use a sound associated with something that your audience loves. A case in point is the use of Christmas-themed bells in an ad to increase sales during the holiday season.
Never underestimate the power of sound.
When used well, it can be a means of sending subliminal messages in your social media campaigns. Keep in mind that many people browse the social media timelines with the sound off.
So use visual cues to send subliminal messages in your campaigns as well.
Add meaningful images to your social media campaigns
The average person has seven categories of sensory input, namely:
- Vestibular (balance and movement)
- Proprioception (body awareness)
Of the seven, the visual category is the strongest sensory input that dominates our perception. This makes subvisual messaging one of the most effective forms of subliminal messaging.
To do this, you can either flash images in videos (no, not that flash) or just use colors that are usually associated with something your audience is familiar with.
Color psychology is an easy way to send subliminal messages. Studies have shown that certain colors trigger certain neurological and emotional responses in the viewer.
Here is a summary of the meaning behind common colors and the emotions they evoke:
- red: Energy, action, physical needs (like hunger or affection), danger (the need for security), excitement, strength
- orange: Warmth, friendliness, hunger, fun, freedom, comfort
- yellow: Happiness, fun, vitality, happiness, optimism
- green: Life, rest, prosperity, freshness, health, peace, relaxation
- blue: Trust, reliability, calm, reliability, stability
- purple: Spirituality, pride, luxury, sophistication, courage, mystery
- pink: Sensitivity, romance, empathy, care, hope
Used wisely, color psychology can improve the perception of your social ads. More importantly, when used well, color psychology can help your audience respond positively to your ads.
Subliminal messaging isn't just about adding hidden messages to your social media campaigns. It can be as subtle as using the right colors to get the right reaction from your audience.
Embed your message in a song
Music plays an important role in creating effective ads. However, you can also increase their impact in paid social media campaigns by adding a subliminal message to the music you use.
One way to do this is to overlay your message over the song. For example, you can record a short conversation with the content of your message and overlay it with a theme song.
The conversation may not be the focus of attention when viewing the ad, but the subconscious can pick it up.
This technique is best used to encourage your audience to trust your brand. This is especially true if the music is upbeat and the message is intended to instill confidence in your product / service.
Use typography to send subliminal messages
Typography, or the art of arranging letters and text, is another great way to send subliminal messages in paid social media campaigns.
Capitalizing certain letters in a sentence can send a message. Alternatively, you can strategically hide some letters.
Here is an example from the popular SFX magazine:
This is a classic case of good graphic design and typography that works well for creating a scrolling ad.
When you quickly scroll through your feed, this ad appears to say, “Subscribe … Plus! Free sex. "
This could prevent you from looking closely at the display. Of course, the ad is about SFX magazine, but the typography placement is likely to attract quite a few glances.
The type of font used can affect how a message is perceived. In short, while the font used may not directly route a message, it will still affect someone's experience of your message.
For example, like Adobe Garamond Pro, some fonts appear more masculine and are best used when targeting men in an advertising campaign.
If you want to create an ad with fun and weird undertones, you can use Comic Sans.
Subliminal Messaging Best Practices
Before running your next social media campaign based on subliminal messaging, there are a few best practices that you need to follow to get results.
Keep the following in mind when using subliminal messaging.
Know your audience
Designing effective subliminal messages for social media requires a deep understanding of your audience. This ensures that your messages not only suit their tastes, but also address their main pain points.
Don't be sticky
One mistake many marketers make is creating subliminal ads that are sticky. Here is an example from Burger King:
The ad was not only tasteless, it was offensive to women. So much sex sells, it shouldn't be used to sell anything – especially groceries.
Creating effective subliminal messages for your social media campaigns takes a lot of skill. Even if you have a great idea, be sure to get a second, third, or even fourth opinion before doing it.
Marketing is getting harder as the competition gets tougher. This is why you need to pull out all the stops to meet your marketing goals. If you haven't already, try adding subliminal messages to your social media campaigns to help achieve these goals.
Connecting with your customers unconsciously is a great way to get them to act. It can also help nurture emotional bonds that lead to brand loyalty.
Have you tried using subliminal messages in your social media campaigns? If so, what was your experience with this strategy?